Leadership Comes from Within
By Jonathan Gale, Ph.D.
When you think about what makes a good leader, or how you can improve your leadership skills, you can take solace in knowing that you really need look no further than yourself! Let’s explore some areas on which to focus to enhance your leadership effectiveness.
1. Be Yourself, But Be Willing to Grow
Learning how to be a successful leader involves knowing yourself well first. Some researchers suggest that you should focus 70% of your time on strengths, 25% on new things like growth and change, and only 5% on your areas of weakness.
Once you have identified your strengths, emphasizing those (i.e., being more yourself) lets those around you know that you are a genuine person and comfortable in your leadership role. Consistency in your actions helps build trust. Being yourself is not the goal, though, as 25% of your efforts should be on stretching yourself. If you’re not growing, you run the risk of looking more like a relic than someone people want to follow. Your team as well as your competitors can be a great source of information on the areas in which you need to grow.
2. Establish Goals and Commit to Your Vision
As the leader of your practice, you must decide exactly how you want your group to accomplish your “vision.” You must hone the ability to take your vision and mold it into something the entire group wants to work toward. Rest assured, you don’t need to devise the vision alone. Your team will have valuable input into the overall mission, and incorporating their ideas will make them more likely to stay involved and inspired to achieve the desired results.
Once your vision is set, an important next step is to tell people outside of the group, demonstrating your commitment to the vision. When we make our plans public, we are much more likely to follow through on them.
3. Know Your Team and Create Camaraderie
In addition to providing goals and vision, you will also be in charge of motivation, and you must know how to get what you need from each individual member of your team. In conjunction with this, you must remain available for advice and support. Being there for your people in this way communicates very effectively that you are invested in them.
As a leader you are responsible for creating an exciting, energetic and rewarding environment for your group, inspiring them to work toward common goals. You must be able to identify and recognize the various talents, interests, strengths and weaknesses of your team members and use them all to the group’s advantage. An effective leader understands that he or she is very much part of the team and never loses the concept of working together to achieve common objectives.
4. Communicate: Talk and Listen
It sounds simple and perhaps obvious, but in order to be an effective leader, you must communicate your ideas effectively and also listen to the opinions of your group. Successful leaders are great askers, but you must take into consideration what your group has to say. Feeling brushed aside does not bode well for good followership.
Simply asking your team members what they think from time to time, or during scheduled 1:1 meetings, can make them feel like an integral part in achieving the group’s goals and keep them motivated to continue.
5. Evaluate Performances and Appreciate Others’ Work
Look at what you and your group have accomplished daily, weekly, monthly or in whatever timeframe makes sense for the activity involved. Are you meeting goals? Are there particular problem areas that arise repeatedly? Are all members doing what is required of them? Are you handling problems swiftly and effectively? Are you staying firm in your decisions?
Be sure to ask your group to assess how you’re doing as well; evaluating yourself helps ensure that you are treating everyone equally, fairly and consistently. Of course where there are problems, you need to address them, but equally important is offering praise when someone is doing a good job. Sometimes these words of encouragement are just enough to push someone to continue when they may have been bored or discouraged. Business consultant Ken Blanchard wrote: “Good thoughts in your head that are not communicated mean ‘squat.’”
Remember, learning how to be a leader is just like any other skill – the more practice you get, the more successful you will be.
Dr. Gale provides coaching and training to enhance leadership skills, interpersonal communications and team building. If you would like to learn more, contact him at email@example.com
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